Devangana kalita and Delhi HC
Devangana kalita and Delhi HC
Litigation News

Press note on the role of Devangana Kalita aimed at protecting our reputation, not prejudicing her case: Delhi Police tells Delhi HC

ASG Aman Lekhi brought to the Court's notice certain tweets made by Pinjra Tod group, calling Kalita's arrest a case of "abuse of power vested in State" and a "witch-hunt".

Aditi Singh

The Delhi Police yesterday argued before the Delhi High Court that it issued a press note on the role of Pinjra Tod Member Devangana Kalita in Delhi riots cases in an attempt to safeguard its reputation and sustain the legal process.

The reason to issue the press note was not to prejudice Kalita or attack her reputation or interfere with the legal process, Additional Solicitor General Aman Lekhi argued.

A Single Judge Bench of Justice Vibhu Bakhru was hearing Kalita's petition to stop Delhi Police from publicizing information on allegations and evidence allegedly collected against her in the Delhi riots cases.

It was her case that the information being circulated is misleading and is likely to prejudice the trial.

In response to the Petition, Delhi Police had submitted an affidavit, inter alia, stating that the press note was only an attempt to put "things in right perspective".

Taking the submission forward, ASG Lekhi brought to the Court's notice certain tweets made by Pinjra Tod group, calling Kalita's arrest a case of "abuse of power vested in State" and a "witch-hunt". ASG Lekhi contended that a social media campaign was being run to "communalize the police" by calling it a "hindutva machinery".

It was explained that it was in this backdrop, that the Delhi Police, through its Public Relations Officer, issued a press note after a chargesheet was filed in a related matter, in order to clarify that it was not a political prosecution.

ASG Lekhi said that the note was not a "leak" as it was duly shared on a WhatsApp group which has over 400 participants from various media house.

The note was aimed at striking a balance between the reputation of the accused and the Police which is accountable to the public, ASG Lekhi said.

It was also clarified that the screenshot of a WhatsApp conversation in the note, which showed preparation for the riots, did not pertain to Kalita and the same was clear in the note itself as it spoke of "an accused".

During the course of the hearing, the Court questioned ASG Lekhi if the actions of the State could be equated with that of an individual on social media.

"Presumption of innocence is not destroyed by one who runs a campaign", the Court remarked.

The presumption is of the integrity of an institution as well, ASG Lekhi replied.

ASG Lekhi conceded that sharing of selective information with the media, without any cause or reason, would fairly be frowned upon by the courts.

The hearing will continue today when counsel for Kalita will put forth his rebuttal.

Kalita is being represented by Advocates Adit Pujari, Kriti Awasthi and Tusharika Mattoo.

On the last date of hearing, the Court had pulled by Delhi Police for filing an affidavit accusing Kalita "guilty of peddling of a false narrative of a political vendetta, state-sponsored pogrom, persecution and malicious prosecution".

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